MONROVIA: President George M. Weah has issued a proclamation granting clemency, ordering the Ministry of Justice to pardon five (500) hundred inmates where applicable.
In the proclamation, President Weah said those expected to be pardoned include those who committed misdemeanor and capital offenses.
However, according to the proclamation, rapists and armed robbers are not included.
The President has also ordered the Suspension of the two (2) year prison sentence imposed on Brownie J. Sumukai, former Minister of national Defense, and Lofa County senator-elect.
According to a statement from the Government of
Liberia, the President of Liberia, pursuant to Article 59 of the 1986 Constitution which vests in him the power and authority to grant reprieves, suspend fines, sentences and pardon anyone convicted and sentenced for a crime has, with immediate effect, ordered the suspension of the two (2) year prison sentence imposed on Mr. Browne J. Samukai, following his conviction by the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia; with the proviso that he (Brownie J. Samukai) will work with the Ministry of Justice to enter a stipulation for the full settlement of the Armed Forces of Liberia money.
The President has directed the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to make full payment of the outstanding balance of the AFL money, while Mr. Samukai is going through the Stipulation Payment Agreement.
As Liberians joyously celebrate 200 years of existence as a nation and people, the President has further directed the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General to submit to his Office a list of persons to be pardoned during these festive celebrations.
The President has also called on all Liberians to reconcile their differences and transform Liberia into a haven of peace.
In the face of the latest ruling recently by the Supreme Court of Liberia against former Defense Minister, Brownie Jeffery Samukai, and his co-defendants, Joseph P. Johnson, former Deputy Defense Minister for Administration; and James Nyumah Dorkor, former Comptroller of the Ministry of Defense, multiple sources hinted that the Lofa County Senator-elect, has gone into hiding.
The Supreme Court of Liberia, in its final ruling on Thursday, January 27, 2022, found Samukai and one of his ex-deputy ministers and the former comptroller liable for the crimes of “Money Laundering and Economic Sabotage” and ordered their immediate arrest and subsequent incarceration in a common jail for two years.
The action by the High Court stems from the failure of Samukai and his co-defendants to pay the fifty percent (50%) that was required of them in connection with the misappropriation of the AFL’s fund of over US$1 million.
Former Minister Samukai got permission from the National Elections Commission (NEC) to contest on the ticket of the main opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), in Lofa County and won the county’s coveted senatorial seat in the December 2020 senatorial elections despite his conviction in the criminal case.
However, the Supreme Court, on the Ministry of Justice’s request ordered the National Elections Commission (NEC) not to certificate Samukai for the Lofa County senatorial seat until he removes the disability imposed upon him as the ministry cited several provisions of the Liberian laws.
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling recently, The ‘Investigative’ INDEPENDENT’ verified that the former defense minister and his co-defendants are yet to be taken to the Monrovia Central Prison in keeping with the court’s order.
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ), through the Liberia National Police (LNP), on Sunday, January 30, 2022, also confirmed to this paper that, so far, there has been no arrest for Mr. Samukai.
Police Spokesman Moses Carter recently told this paper that “To the best of my knowledge, we have not made any arrest. As you know the Samukai case is a court matter and so, as far as police is concerned, we don’t know his whereabouts.”
Amid the police position, this paper on Sunday, January 30, 2022, made several attempts without any success to contact Mr. Samukai for his whereabouts and /or comment via mobile phone which was switched off up to press time.
The whereabouts of the former Defense Minister and Lofa County Senator-elect came on the heels of unconfirmed reports which emanated from some major media outlets including Spoon-TV, indicating that the convicted Lofa County Senator-elect has escaped the country following the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Highly placed and unimpeachable sources who prefer anonymity for security and diplomatic reasons also informed this paper that Mr. Samukai fled to neighboring Sierra Leone, a claim which has not been confirmed or denied by the appropriate authorities of Sierra Leone.
Other sources confided to this paper that Mr. Samukai has yet to leave Liberia while others suggest he may have departed Liberia for the Republic of Guinea under the cover of darkness. The Guinean authorities have so far not commented on the issue as to whether or not the former Liberian Defense Minister is in that neighboring state.
Though it is not yet clear as to whether Mr. Samukai is in Liberia, one thing that stands tall among all is the fact that his whereabouts remain unknown as officially indicated by the Liberia National Police (LNP).
Mr. Samukai is the former Minister of National Defense of Liberia. He took office on January 16, 2006, as part of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s cabinet. He served in this capacity for the 12-year period of former Sirleaf’s regime.
In the 1980s, he worked within the Liberian Ministry of National Defense. In 1986-87, he was working within the G-4 Branch of the AFL.
In 1991, according to biographical details issued at a 2007 U.S. Institute of Peace Briefing, Samukai was appointed as Deputy Minister of Defense for Operations.
The biographical details indicated that he ‘was responsible for re-establishing civilian control over the Liberian army and established an urban response team to counter urban terrorism.’ He served in this position until 1994.
From 1993-4, he served as commander of the controversial ‘Black Berets,’ a paramilitary police force then, based in Monrovia, during the erstwhile Liberia transitional administration led by Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer’s Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU).
The International Crisis Group also noted then that the Black Berets fought alongside the then peace monitoring troops of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which was known as ECOMOG.
The Black Berets group was established in Monrovia during the country’s transitional period when Charles Taylor’s then heavily armed rebel forces, in 1992, launched an infamous bloody assault on Monrovia, styled: ‘Operation Octopus.’
‘The Black Berets and the former AFL were accused of killing some 600 civilians in the June 1993 Carter Camp Massacre in Margibi County, which was later investigated by a UN backed investigation Commission, led by a top Kenyan military expert, Amos Wako, that subsequently reported that said massacre was not committed by NPFL rebels. IGNU President at the time, Dr. Sawyer, however, rejected the report of the Wako Commission and insisted that the massacre was carried out by NPFL and not Black Berets and AFL soldiers.
Interestingly, Black Berets, former AFL, NPFL, INPFL LURD, LPC and other armed groups were blamed by the Liberia’s erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), of committing widespread rights abuses during Liberia’s armed conflict and back-to-back civil war that spanned a decade.
Samukai also served as Director of the Liberian National Police from 1994–95 and Deputy Minister of State for Administration from 1995 to 1997.
In 1998, he served on the AFL Restructuring Commission, where he was listed as a retired Colonel of the AFL in private business.
From 1999 to 2004/05, he served as a security officer with the United Nations, initially with UNTAET in East Timor, and then from 2000 with UNHCR and the UN Department of Safety and Security in Tanzania, responsible for refugees resettlement in Tanzania.
However, the Supreme Court’s final ruling has sparked mix-views in the public, leaving many keen observers and analysts to speculate over the status of Lofa County Senatorial seat in the 54th Legislature.
Many independent observers are predicting bye-election is likely in Lofa County, to replace Mr. Brownie Jeffery Samukai amid the final ruling from the Supreme Court which calls for his incarceration in a common jail for two years.
Others including Lofa citizens, hours after the court’s decision against their Senator-elect, told FrontPage Africa facebook live that the case was a calculated ploy to undermine the full representation of Lofa County.
“If this government sees his incarceration as something that will bring them joy, let them go ahead but what I can say to you is that the people of Lofa will speak come 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections,” they intimated.
Varney Dukuly Writes.